At the headquarters hastily set up across the street from Minuetís Georgetown home Mulder was fuming at the delay. As far as they could tell Scully was inside, but they couldnít be sure. The woman that had accompanied her there was in custody, taken when she left the house. She hadnít seen "Danielle" leave, but hadnít been paying attention. People had come and gone after the meeting broke up, and Minuet had gone to her private office.
"Canít you reach your source?" He was going to explode.
"Theyíve vanished. We canít reach anyone, the number has been disconnected."
"This could all have been a setup!"
"Iím aware of that Agent Mulder. But I wasnít about to ignore death threats to congressmen on that basis."
Mulder sat silently for a few moments, then rose and approached Skinner. "Sheís not in there."
"What? How do you know that?"
"Sheís been taken out. Is there another exit we donít know about?"
"Iíll check on it." Orders were barked and building plans appeared in front of Skinner and Mulder.
"Look!" Mulder pointed to the plans. "Thatís a garage, it comes out. . . Damn it! No oneís covering that area."
"We didnít know. Stevens! Get some men over here."
"Your source lacks a hell of a lot of information." Mulder was too angry to pussyfoot around Skinner any longer.
Mulder stood to get more coffee, not that he needed it. He felt like he could blast into orbit at any second. He was half way across the room when it hit. He stumbled and fell to one knee, nearly toppling the chair he grabbed.
Skinner was beside him, "Are you okay? What happened?"
"Sheís been shot." He looked up into Skinnerís eyes, his own totally bleak.
"Is she dead?" More than one agent turned to look at Skinner at that. How could he ask a question like that, even to Spooky?
Mulder however accepted it without thought. He slowly shook his head, "No, but weíve got to get to her. Weíre out of time."
"Weíre going in. I know you think sheís not there, but we donít have a lot of options right now Mulder. We need to move fast." He helped Mulder to his feet, but kept his hand on his arm.
"Sir!" A tech from the other side of the room was waving frantically. Both men raced to his side. A womanís voice was speaking clearly and rapidly. Her directions were precise and from her tone it was clear that no interruptions would be tolerated. The tech was racing to trace the call, this person was obviously aware of timeframes.
Mulder listened carefully to the directions, committing them automatically to memory. Before anyone could speak, the connection was broken. "Did you get it?" Skinner managed to speak first.
"No, not a full number." He turned the screen so that the two men looming over him could see.
"Itís legit. We need to move." Mulder was already headed toward the door.
"Itís only a partial, Mulder."
"Yeah, but itís a partial of Scullyís cell phone. Come on!"
Skinner barked more orders as he caught up with Mulder and they raced to the waiting cars. The rescue helicopter was waiting for them when they got to the FBI building along with the EMTs.
Mulder had never been on a longer flight. Skinner wondered at one point if he planned to get out and push. As they neared the location given in the phone call he began to wonder if he could push as well. This was maddening. Mulder scanned one side as Skinner scanned from the other, but it was the pilot that spotted the location first.
"Down there." He pointed. "Looks like more than one body though."
It was just as well the pilot couldnít see Mulderís face. If he had Skinner had no doubt he would have lost control of the copter, and possibly died on the spot from pure fear. He set the helicopter down as close as possible. Mulder was out and running toward her before the pilot gave the go ahead. There were three of them. His hand barely brushed the one on top of her as he fell to his knees, reaching to check for a pulse. The other two were obviously dead and Mulder found himself praying that most of the blood covering her was theirs and not hers.
He could hear the EMTs unloading their equipment and Skinner had held back a few steps. Her eyes flickered and opened slightly. He wasnít sure she was focused but she seemed to see him. He saw her lips move, forming his name, though no sound emerged. Then he was being moved to the side so that they could examine her.
"Mulder?" Skinner had finally approached and took Mulderís arm to get him to his feet.
"Sheís alive." No other words seemed necessary, so he stood silent, watching them work over her. A lot of that blood was hers. He could see the wound when the EMT removed the cloth she had pressed against herself. For a moment he was glad Skinner had hold of him.
It felt like they worked on her for hours, but later Skinner assured him they were on the ground less than thirty minutes. When they loaded her on the helicopter he was beside her. One of the EMTs had seen the expression on his face when the pilot spotted the bodies and made no comment when, after takeoff, he had moved back to her side again.
"They want you to wake up Scully. Can you hear me?" He ran his fingertip across her cheekbone. "Come on, Scully. Open your eyes."
"Mulder?" She looked up into his smiling face. "What?"
"You went off without me Ė big mistake, Scully. Donít you know what kind of trouble you always get into when you ditch me?"
"Me?" She recognized the teasing tone and was grateful for it. He obviously knew what was going on and he wasnít angry, at least for now. Skinner must have briefed him.
"They got Minuet. The two women with you died. You were damn lucky." She felt his hand tremble in hers.
"No, she saved my life. I donít know why. The blond woman killed Erika and then the woman that shot me killed her. She warned me to play dead and not give it away and sheíd make sure they found me in time."
"Wait a minute, one of the dead women killed the other?"
"Yes, didnít the ballistics. . . ?"
"I havenít checked, Iíve been kind of busy."
She caressed the new beard on his face. "I can see that. Youíre beyond scruffy."
"The nurses havenít complained." He felt the color rise in his face at the gleam in her eye.
"I bet they havenít."
He sobered and squeezed her hand. "Skinner told me what was going on. Scully, please donít. . . please let me know whatís going on with you. I didnít understand and acted like a fool. I could have gotten you killed."
"I should have told you. I know. But you would have tried to talk me out of it, and I really thought I could handle it."
"You did handle it, Iím the one that fucked up, Scully. Thatís what distracted you. I donít understand why she shot you if she was trying to save you, or had planned to kill the other woman."
"I had time to think about that, lying there under those two women, waiting for you." He squeezed her hand again. "I think they were rivals and it was a good way to get rid of her. I just donít know why she saved me in the process."
They both turned as Skinner cleared his throat. "May I come in?"
"Sure." Scully started to disengage her hand, but Mulder tightened his grip.
"You look a lot better." He smiled at Scully, "Now maybe you better work on him."
"Hey, she likes the beard." Mulder protested.
"She seems to like working with you too, so I consider her
taste questionable." Before Mulder could respond he turned back to Scully.
"Weíve closed down Minuetís operation. The blond woman we found dead at the
scene is Georgia Brunnlee and weíve got agents turning flips over finding her.
Sheís been implicated in several dozen hits, so not many tears are being shed.
Weíve also analyzed the recording of the woman that gave us your location. She
was our source inside. We donít have an ID and we need you to help us with a
"Why would she save me?"
"We donít know that. She may have been marking her territory by disposing of Georgia. Maybe she didnít want to kill those particular congressmen. Hell, maybe she liked you."
Both men watched as Scullyís color rose. "What?" Mulder moved closer to her.
"Well she. . . I thought it was just an excuse to whisper to me, but she, she. . . " Her voice drifted off.
Skinner cleared his throat. "Anyway, ballistics show that the bullet that struck you was from the same gun that shot Georgia, but not the gun that killed the third woman. Can you fill in the blanks there?"
"Yes, Georgia killed Erika. I donít know the name of the woman that shot me. She worked for Minuet, so there might be a picture in her files."
"Weíll check that. Listen, you need to rest. Iíll check back later. Mulder, will you be here?"
"Wait, sir. Why did she kill Erika? Was she working undercover as well?"
"From what we can piece together, the woman that shot you implicated her, possibly to throw suspicion from you. Itís all still pretty sketchy at this point. Rest. Iíll be in touch." He gave Mulder the briefest nod and was gone.
Mulder settled back in his chair at her side, suddenly serious. "Skinner said I should realize that you might not want to spend your life in the basement. Do I need to start letting you go? If thatís what you want. . ."
"It isnít." Her tone was definite.
"But itís my fault."
"How can you take blame for this one Mulder? Someone blew my cover, it wasnít you. I never saw your name on the client list at Minuetís."
"Did you look?"
"Of course I did. I canít believe videos are enough for you." She smiled up at him. "This isnít your fault, Mulder. Weíre just better together. I proved that to myself with this case, if nothing else. Think you could put up with me a little while longer?"
Mulder looked at her, remembering the searing pain in his own side when sheíd been shot. "Yeah, I think I can stand you a little longer." And squeezed her hand again.
"What? Mulder, what? Is something wrong?"
He didnít meet her eyes. What had happened was too strange, even for him.
"What havenít you told me?" Her hand went to her wound.
"No, Scully. Youíre fine, well; youíre going to be. Itís not that." He took her hand back into his.
"Then what? Talk to me Mulder."
"I knew when you were shot."
"Mulder, youíre known for your intuitive leaps. Thatís why they call you Spooky."
"This was a little spookier than that. I felt you shot, Scully. I went down."
"There were lots of witnesses, Scully. Skinner was there. He asked me if you were still alive."
"Probably cost him a lot of points, even asking me a thing like that."
"What does it mean?"
He shrugged, "That I should watch out the next time you have cramps?" He ducked from her glare. "I donít have a clue Scully. Tell me what was happening, what were you thinking."
"I was praying that youíd be able to find my body easily, so you wouldnít have to search, so that youíd know that I was gone. Not have to wonder. . . "
"Oh god, Scully." He put his head down on the bed, not releasing her hand.
"I had no doubt in my mind I was going to die. I was so afraid of leaving you. The way weíd parted. . . " She was trying to get back under control. "Mulder, you say that you trust me. That Iím the only one you trust." He nodded.
"When you saw me in that outfit, it wasnít trust I saw in your eyes." He managed not to look away. "Why do you trust me in every way but this one? Why did you assume I was seeing Skinner?"
"This is where I admit I live in fear that youíre going to find someone good for you."
She looked surprised. "Mulder, I already have."
He couldnít disguise the look of fear that flashed in his eyes.
"You Mulder. Youíre good for me." She squeezed his hand at the hungry look in his eyes.
"Trust me on this Mulder."